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Sculpting bony plates

From: Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya

Video: Sculpting bony plates

Our little Dewhopper here has boney plates and spikes around his head, legs and back. Hard protective plates like these are visually interesting additions to many creature designs. The main challenge when sculpting them is getting them to integrate with the softer skin surface of the creature. So let's look at some reference images. One thing that helps us understand how to sculpt something like this is by paying attention to surface quality. The textures, shapes, and curves of these surfaces help us to understand what kind of material they're made of.

Sculpting bony plates

Our little Dewhopper here has boney plates and spikes around his head, legs and back. Hard protective plates like these are visually interesting additions to many creature designs. The main challenge when sculpting them is getting them to integrate with the softer skin surface of the creature. So let's look at some reference images. One thing that helps us understand how to sculpt something like this is by paying attention to surface quality. The textures, shapes, and curves of these surfaces help us to understand what kind of material they're made of.

Surfaces with wrinkles imply that the material is pliable because the wrinkles form when the surface bends. Surfaces with sharp edges imply that the material is hard because soft surfaces don't tend to form edges. Surface quality is the way in which we can tell what kind of material something is made of just by its surface shape alone, and it's an indispensable skill for a sculptor to have. Being able to sculpt different material types without resorting to color, shininess, or fancy shaders is one of the best things you can do to make your creatures come alive.

Of course, all those other attributes will come later, but if the modeling and sculpting doesn't feature good surface quality, the shading and lighting will fall flat. So let's put this into practice. Back in ZBrush, you can see that we've got the overall mass of the boney parts already created. What we need to do now is to make it feel like a hard organic surface. There're several tools for this job; one is the Crease Brush. It will create hard corners and sharp edges. So let's see how this is going to work. Let me just zoom in here on the head, I am going to get the Crease Brush, typing B+C+J.So you can see when you use this brush, you get some nice sharp corners.

You can also hold down Alt while using it to dig in. This can create nice separations between different boney parts. You could also use it to separate these boney plates from the back here. So I am just going to create kind of a crease between them, then you could also use the Crease Brush to build up sharp corners around the boney plate. Another good tool is the Polish Brush.

So the shortcut for that is B+P+O. Using this brush puts flat spots onto the surface, kind of polishes down any rough areas which also creates a nice surface quality. Go ahead and adjust this to your liking. I might want to use a smaller brush here for some of these parts. We can use the Custom Clay Brush to build up the volume of little small horns that are clustered around big horns.

So let's look at this reference image. You can see that there's some of these big horns right here, but then there's little smaller ones kind of clustered around it. So let's see how we can get that effect in ZBrush. I am going to go to Custom Clay, B+C+O and I'll just use it to build up a shape and size and volume of little smaller horns around here. I am going to spend some more time on this area.

So there's lots of ways you can build up forms. I'm sculpting out these horns with the Custom Clay Brush. I just want to get kind of the shape built-in, and then I am going to go in with the Crease Brush and define the shape of these horns a little bit more clearly. If you hold down Alt while you stroke, you can use the Crease Brush to define kind of an inward crease. You know what, I didn't really like the way that was going. So I am just going to undo a little bit and use the Smooth Brush to knock these shapes back a little bit.

I just want to remove some of that volume and I want to try again with the Crease Brush to define these forms. That makes a much nicer separation between these horn shapes. Keep moving around to different parts of the sculpt and building in detail. These boney points can have patterns or interesting shapes worked into them. Sometimes I'll smooth out everything and try it in a different way if I don't like how it's working. Don't feel like you have to lock yourself in to the first shape you make.

Step back and evaluate what everything looks like and be open to making changes. You can also use the Move Brush to push things around. So let's say I don't like how these boney points are coming out right here. I am just going to smooth them out and try something else. Maybe I'll use the Move Brush, B+M+T, and try making that a different way. So you've got lots of options. It can take a while to really get that sense of hard boney surfaces. Keep at it and you'll find that the model takes on a much more solid tone with variations and surface quality.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Creature Creation in ZBrush, Photoshop, and Maya
 
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  1. 2m 34s
    1. Introduction
      59s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      34s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 1s
  2. 10m 45s
    1. Installing custom brushes
      3m 54s
    2. Preparing GoZ
      5m 6s
    3. Optimizing tablet settings
      1m 45s
  3. 8m 36s
    1. Brainstorming
      2m 47s
    2. Refining a concept
      3m 22s
    3. Gathering reference images
      2m 27s
  4. 42m 12s
    1. Starting with ZSpheres
      6m 45s
    2. Posing the ZSpheres
      3m 39s
    3. Sculpting the basic forms
      5m 34s
    4. Using DynaMesh
      3m 8s
    5. Sculpting muscles and mid-size shapes
      6m 20s
    6. Defining joints
      3m 42s
    7. Sculpting bony plates
      5m 0s
    8. Sculpting leathery skin
      8m 4s
  5. 22m 8s
    1. Using GoZ between ZBrush and Maya
      2m 15s
    2. Making an eyeball
      3m 45s
    3. Creating tail spikes
      2m 44s
    4. Modeling a tooth
      4m 27s
    5. Duplicating the teeth
      4m 8s
    6. Finishing the teeth
      4m 49s
  6. 51m 27s
    1. Drawing guidelines for retopology
      4m 56s
    2. Fleshing out the retopology guides
      4m 29s
    3. Creating new topology
      5m 32s
    4. Generating the new mesh
      4m 58s
    5. Cleaning up the mesh in Maya
      5m 5s
    6. Modeling the tail in Maya
      4m 5s
    7. Modeling the claws
      6m 4s
    8. Preparing to project detail
      6m 5s
    9. Projecting detail to new topology
      4m 46s
    10. Cleaning up projection problems
      5m 27s
  7. 21m 0s
    1. Cutting UV seams
      5m 55s
    2. Prepping UV shells for UV Master
      4m 38s
    3. Using UV Master to unfold UVs
      4m 17s
    4. Arranging UVs in Maya
      6m 10s
  8. 13m 25s
    1. Creating a pedestal with Spotlight
      4m 53s
    2. Decimating the geometry
      4m 53s
    3. Finishing the pedestal
      3m 39s
  9. 38m 21s
    1. Setting up the scene for rendering
      5m 14s
    2. Making a key light
      6m 7s
    3. Making a soft sky light
      3m 0s
    4. Making a rim light
      4m 53s
    5. Setting up a simple SSS skin shader
      5m 21s
    6. Adjusting the skin shader
      7m 2s
    7. Adding ambient occlusion to the shaders
      6m 44s
  10. 55m 37s
    1. Polypainting colors in ZBrush
      8m 1s
    2. Extracting texture maps
      6m 54s
    3. Organizing the maps into Photoshop layers
      8m 9s
    4. Compositing the color maps in Photoshop
      4m 33s
    5. Compositing the specular maps in Photoshop
      7m 20s
    6. Importing the maps into Maya
      5m 7s
    7. Connecting the maps to the shaders
      5m 13s
    8. Setting up remap value nodes
      5m 51s
    9. Editing remap value nodes
      4m 29s
  11. 26m 32s
    1. Designing the pose
      4m 35s
    2. Linking subtools to the main body
      4m 12s
    3. Posing with transpose tools
      6m 4s
    4. Polishing the pose
      2m 4s
    5. Finishing touches in ZBrush
      4m 50s
    6. Finishing touches in Maya
      4m 47s
  12. 18m 7s
    1. Fine-tuning lights and render settings
      7m 0s
    2. Batch rendering a turnable animation
      5m 48s
    3. Polishing the renders in Photoshop
      5m 19s
  13. 52s
    1. What's next?
      52s

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